Flavors of Vietnam

We are taking a short break in our guest post series (aren’t you impressed by them so far!?), to give you an update from our travels in Vietnam. Our computer is overloaded with travel & food photos, so instead of writing a full story about what we have experienced here, we thought we’d show you.

The main reason why we chose Vietnam was because of its food. Fresh spring rolls has always been one of our favorite foods. As it turns out it is also a favorite for Elsa. Whenever she gets hold of a spring roll she won’t let it go until it has completely disintegrated in her hands.

We posted a recipe for fresh summer rolls a year ago, and after trying it here in Vietnam we must say that our version actually comes pretty close to the original. We had never used freshly grated coconut before, it’s a great addition. And we cannot be more clear about this: don’t forget the fresh mint leaves, they give the most important flavor to the spring roll.

Random shots from food markets that we have visited.

We have tried a number of different restaurants, cafes and street food stalls in Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City). Some of the restaurants were crowded with europeans and americans while the food stalls mainly were visited by vietnamese people. We had a great dinner at Hoa Tuc, their homemade tofu was a favorite. The cafe and lifestyle store L’usine feels very european, but we still found it pretty cool and tasty.

Two new favorite dishes are rice pancakes and vegetarian pho. Rice pancakes are served with fresh mint leaves, salad and sometimes shrimps or chicken, and dipped in sweet chili sauce. Phó is the Vietnamese rice noodle soup with lots of fresh herbs, lime, chili and big chunks of tofu and vegetables. It can be a little bit tricky finding vegetarian versions, since most of them are made on chicken or beef broth. We did however find a very tasty one at Pho 2000. And when we get home we will try this recipe.

Another version of the rice pancakes are these mini coconut rice cakes. They are made in small clay pots. You wrap them in a salad leaf together with fresh mint leaves, and dip them in peanut sauce or fish sauce. You shouldn’t miss these if you are in Vietnam!

Elsa is now used to eating lychee, dragon fruit, fresh coconut and pomelo every day. How will we ever get her to eat oranges, apples and pears when we get home?

To call the traffic in Saigon crazy would be a huge understatement. There are motorbikes everywhere. They usually don’t stop for red light and they drive in every direction possible. Even the sidewalks are occupied by parked motorbikes. Imagine that we were a little bit shaky after our first walk with the stroller. After a while we learned the unwritten rule: Don’t stop once you have started crossing. Even though it feels like they will drive straight into you, they will drive around you. As long as you don’t make any sudden moves.

After a while here we began wondering why we couldn’t find beans and peas in any recipes. That was until we started reading the dessert menus. Soy beans, red beans, black beans and even black rice are all being used in sweet desserts. We bought this dessert from a woman selling it from the back of her bicycle. It’s different variations of sweet sticky rice, with soy beans, chick peas and grated coconut. It’s very sweet and very yummy!

Apart from eating, we have spent some time on the paradise island Phu Quoc, together with David’s sister and her boyfriend. We stayed in small bungalows without hot water and with only four hours of electricity each day. It took a while getting used to the quiet life, but once you are used to it you get completely hooked. Elsa has been practicing her walking skills on the beach. She loves to be on her feet, but she probably has a couple of weeks left until she manages on her own.

We have 1 week left in Vietnam, after that we are going back to Thailand. Our plan is to rent a small house on an island, so hopefully we’ll have a kitchen again pretty soon!


  • What breathtaking photos! I feel like I'm there too. I think the one of Elsa in the sand is my favorite. I love Vietnamese food so I think you made a great choice. Happy travels!
  • Monica
    Hello! Curious about how you began introducing food to Elsa? Vietnam looks AMAZING - looking forward to more pictures of the remainder of your trip.
  • I just stumbled upon your blog - and loved it right away! I myself am a mom of a little daughter about the same age as Elsa (born last April), love to cook, eat out and also travel!! Lot's of things in common, that's why I really enjoyed reading some of your posts. I'll definitely be back regularly for your travel updates, new recipes and restaurant recommendations.
  • SOOOOOOO beautiful you guys!!! Wow. I want to dive into those pictures. Thanks for sharing all the beauty with us. All the best, Sarah B
  • As usual, your food photos are compelling and beautiful. Thanks for allowing us to explore Vietnam visually.
  • Brings back memories...Miss you, miss Vietnam, miss being on holidays - so ENJOY! It's cold and dark in Sweden... kram på er Johanna
  • Vietnam looks so beautiful and your photos are so stunning! I agree you should let Luise carry the camera more often...the photo of the foot in the market is a winner. I also love the photo of the three of you- so sweet. I've traveled in Japan but never SE Asia- you are making me want to go so very badly. The surroundings and food just look spectacular. I have a vegetarian pho on my blog, too, btw---I love pho!!!
    • Hi Winnie, that's hilarious! I went to look for your vegetarian pho recipe and when I found it I realized that I had seen it before, bookmarked it, and even left a comment on it. And then I must have forgot all about it. It looks so good. I will for sure make your Pho Chay as soon as we get home. Thanks for reminding me! /David
  • Chelsea
    I stumbled upon your blog in the summer, and I've been checking it everyday since (i got my mom addicted too). As a twenty year old college student it's not necessarily the norm to be in love with organic vegetarian foods, but you guys definitely keep me inspired! Hope you all enjoy the rest of your travels (don't forget to post more amazing pictures!). Cheers, Chelsea
  • Wow! Your food and scenery photos are amazing! I’m ready to book a trip to Vietnam.
  • I'm so jealous of you guys now!! Vietnam looks wonderful, absolutely gorgeous photographs :) Though I have never been there I'm a fan of Pho, and here is the link to the vegetarian Pho from my blog, check it out! http://ambikaskitchen.com/Ambikas_Kitchen/page5/Entries/2009/12/20_Vietnamese_Pho_-_Vegetarian_Version.html Have fun!!
  • Is it really that beautiful and charming there or are you just such a great photographer that you can make it look incredible? Or some of both? I can't believe how big Elsa is getting! You three make such a beautiful family.
    • Thanks Teri! Actually it is so beautiful here that you really would have to try hard not to take good pictures ;) /David
  • Thank for your sharing this incredibly inspiring and delicious journey with us. Did you have any tea while you were there? I've heard artichoke tea is a traditional sip.
    • Hi Alexis, Luise drinks vietnamese green tea all the time. She is actually talking about writing a post about it, but I think we would need to consult you first. Expect an email from us sometime soon. We haven't found any artichoke tea yet, but if you know where we should go to try it (in Saigon) we'd love to have the address. Thanks! /David
    • Hi David, So happy to hear that Luise is enjoying the green tea in Vietnam and writing a post about it. Even though I'm sure you don't need my consultation (since your posts are always beyond incredible), feel free to email me at any point alexis.siemons@gmail.com Unfortunately, I don't have a specific location for the artichoke tea. A friend brought it back from Vietnam for me. I'll try to find out... Looking forward to reading more of your edible adventures. Sincerely, Alexis
  • v
    Ya'll seem like the perfect family. I'm excited to see what other kinds of foods you discover on your travels. Thank you for sharing and beautiful photos!
  • How beautiful Vietnam is! I wish I'll go soon! Your pictures are breathtaking and so colorful!
  • You set a great example by taking kid to travel (from Stockholm all the way to Vietnam?) and exposing them to a different culture--street food and wet market! oh the rice cakes look great!
  • Viveca Carlsson
    Wonderful, wonderful pictures! And I am so glad to know that you like Vietnam and Vietnamese food. The Vietnamese way of combining different fresh herbs to spice food is so inspiring. Enjoy the rest of your trip! Viveca
  • The photos are simply outstanding! Elsa is so darling. I love the picture of her in the sand. And the food! Yum!
  • Wow. I am so impressed and envious of your travels, especially with the wee one! It sounds like such an adventure. My husband and I were just in Nicaragua and promised to bring our children (we don't have any yet!) to interesting places and not be scared! All your photos are such a pleasure to look at, thank you so much for sharing!
  • How beautiful. Thanks for sharing your travels!
  • so beautiful! Love the photos! Makes me want to go there now, so many fresh veggies yum <3 I especially love the shot of the man's foot in the market. I would like a print of that please :)
  • The picture of the foot sticking out at the market is by far my favorite... but all of your work is just stunning. Looks like a wonderful, food-filled trip.
    • Hi Brian & Nicole! The funny thing about the photo of the foot in the market is that it was Luise who took it. She never wanted to learn how to use my "complicated" camera, so I am the one taking 95% of the photos. But that day at the market it was very difficult to drive the stroller, so I did it while she carried the camera. I didn't even notice that she took that picture until later that day. I love that shot too, and I realize that I should let her carry the camera more often! /David
  • Hjördís
    soo great pictures, and I hope you are having a great time, cant wait for new recipes, and I hope youll get a kitchen, have a great time and save travel!
  • Your blog features some of the most beautiful photos I have ever seen!! Honestly :) And that vegetarian pho looks incredible right about now...mmm tofu, i miss it! it is a rare find in Spain!
  • Hi there, I came upon your blog a couple of weeks or so ago and have read a few of your archived posts since then. First of all, what an awesome-looking site and well laid out. Secondly, your food philosophy and vegetarian recipes are right up my alley! Finally, such beautiful photographs to accompany your writing. I am utterly impressed with your 'round-the-world journey with your gorgeous baby. Now on my bookmarks list, I'm off to make a list for a recipe or two to try today. Thank you for sharing so generously! (And thank you for introducing me to My New Roots!) Safe journey, and healthy & happy eating!
    • Thank you so much Grace for your overwhelming comment! I hope you will enjoy the recipes too! /Luise
  • Det ser helt underbart ut! Fina bilder och god mat ser det ut som. De där kokos-riskakorna ser riktigt goda ut. Tycker det vore jätteintressant med recept på efterrätter med bönor, har varit sugen på att testa det ett tag nu...
  • I found Dana's soup as well and decided to give it a go and cook my very first vegan Pho soup! :) I saw a video in Hungarian how to cook Pho and mixed the video and 2 different recipes and turned out great. You can find my recipe in English in the blog post comments: http://zizikalandjai.blogspot.com/2011/01/vegetarianus-pho-leves.html. Also check out Em's recipe as well: http://kitchen-em.blogspot.com/2011/01/vegan-pho.html. Vietnam is my dream place! I'm sure one day I'll have an opportunity to try these wonderful dishes you write about. Your blog is wonderful, love it so much!
  • Sanna
    Hej David, så roligt att få följa er spännande resa och vilka FANTASTISKA bilder! Elsa är sååå söt! Kramar, Sanna
  • Love the colourful photos from your trip! Elsa really seems to enjoy it too, that's wonderful! Safe travels! x
  • Fabulous. Looks like you had a great time and the pictures speak of it quite loudly. I'm love with the last picture of the baby on the sand, priceless!

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